April holidays affect big tractor sales

By: Gary Northover

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While April was another strong month for sales of agricultural equipment across Australia, we saw sales of larger (100-200hp) tractors pause due largely to the extended Easter/Anzac Day break combined with the extreme weather conditions experienced along the eastern seaboard, writes the TMA's Gary Northover.

In general terms tractor sales volumes were down for the month but remain 2 percent ahead of the same time last year. Victorian sales recorded a solid bounce, up 10 percent in the month and 14 percent ahead of last year, while New South Wales and Queensland are both in line with last year.

The states of Western Australia and South Australia, which haven’t received the rainfall seen in the eastern states, are reporting bumpy sales months on low volumes. Buyers there are tending to be a bit cautious, but full-year predictions generally remain on track as forecast.

Though larger tractor sales were down this month, forward orders are still very strong and there is every expectation that numbers will again be healthy in this category. For the first time in a long time, we are beginning to hear of supply challenges in selected categories from overseas suppliers.

While general demand in the US and parts of Europe remain subdued, there are pockets of increased activity occurring in places such as South America, which is resulting in some competition for stock. This may have the effect of slowing some lead times as factories generally adapt to improving demand.

The under-40hp or leisure market was again solid and remains around 10 percent up on last year, as does the 40-100hp range, almost exactly in line with last year’s levels.

Not unexpectedly, combine harvester sales have yet to occur to any great degree with only around 5 percent of the full years forecast delivered thus far this year. It’s a similar story for balers, which have been notable for the lack of activity to date.

Sales of out-front mowers were down also this month, though roughly in line with the same time last year.

Dealers and manufacturers remain generally positive about the year ahead, with most expecting a repeat of last year’s strong performance. Farming conditions appear to be supportive of another bumper harvest season support by reasonably stable commodity prices

On a more general note, we have been watching with interest the various budgetary announcements at both State and Federal level relating to agriculture, and note the National Farmers Federation issuing a solid B+ for the Federal Budget delivered on May 9.

Investment in roads and rail has been sorely needed in support of our agricultural producers and it is pleasing to see progress being made on this front.

Finally, the Tractor and Machinery Association has now begun receiving bookings for the upcoming annual conference to be held at the MCG on July 18.  Visitors from around the nation are expected to attend and will once again be treated  to a program consisting of guest speakers from a wide range of industries and disciplines along with a number of panel sessions reviewing key challenges within the industry. It promises to be another big event for the industry.

Gary Northover is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or gary@tma.asn.au

 

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